It seems af though all of West Bend is in on the fight, arguing on blogs, the radio, town meetings. Must be nice to live in a town where all you have to worry about are books. No economic crises, apparently. No foreclosures or crime sprees. Just naughty books on library shelves.
One man has suggested that the city's library director he should be tarred and feathered.
Yes folks, it's the 1700s all over again in West Bend, Wisconsin.
All the brouhaha began back in February when Jim and Ginny Maziarka objected to the content of a few books in the young-adult section. Then they petitioned the library board to move any sexually explicit books --the definition of which would be debated, although Jim and Ginny have named themselves experts-- from the young-adult section to the adult section and to label them as sexually explicit. The Maziarka's also asked the library board to obtain books about homosexuality that affirmed heterosexuality, such as titles written by "ex-gays."
We need to affirm heterosexuality because it's on the decline apparently. And those poor heteros are feeling put upon and discriminated against. Let's build them up.
"All the books in the young-adult zone that deal with homosexuality are gay-affirming. That's not balance," Ginny Maziarka said.
Yes, Ginny Maziarka thinks gay-affirming books are bad, especially these days with gay kids being bullied to death. We shouldn't be telling these kids that they're okay; we should be giving them books to tell them how to change their evil ways and be like the rest of us....or at least like the Maziarkas.
But the library did not agree with the Maziarkas' suggestions, and did not relabel or segregate books according the Maziarka System. So, Ginny set down the plate of biscuits she normally would be eating while she watched Oprah and began a blog championing her cause of book banning.
Maria Hanrahan, also a West Bend mom whose mind isn't nailed shut, set up a rival blog to argue the other side. "I'm against any other party telling me what's appropriate for my child and what isn't," said Hanrahan, 40, who also created a West Bend Parents for Free Speech group. "We don't mean to say these are appropriate for everyone, but we don't feel they should be set apart from other materials or restricted from the young-adult section."
What's this? Rational thought in West Bend? Go Maria!
"If you told me we would be going through a book challenge of this nature, I'd think, 'Never in a million years,' " said Michael Tyree, director of the West Bend Community Memorial Library.
With the debate raging, the city council voted in April against renewing the terms of four library board members, in part because council members thought the board was dragging its feet, library director Tyree said.
And the Maziarkas continued their obsession with books about sex, and have identified 82 questionable titles--more than double their original list. They asked the library board to label and move to the adult section any "youth-targeted pornographic books"--including books that describe sex acts in a way unsuitable for minors.
"We're not talking about educational material. We're talking raunchy sex acts," Ginny Maziarka said, obviously referring to one book in particular that has her back hairs in a twist: "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," in which a fictional teenage boy tells about his freshman year in high school, including rape and homosexual and heterosexual sex between teens.
Michael Tyree said book excerpts found on Maziarka's blog had been taken out of context and, in the case of "Wallflower," the criticism missed some of the book's points. "In this book, there were consequences of ... rape, of indiscriminate sex. Those were not portrayed so glowingly," he said.
But Ginny kept going after the books like a kid after Halloween candy, and by the June 2nd library board meeting she had collected over 1,000 signatures; but so had Maria Hanrahan. After listening to dozens of speakers on both sides of the issue, the board--which still included the outgoing members--unanimously voted to keep all policies the same.
The Maziarkas and their supporters are gearing up for another go at the library, in part because the board now has its four new members. They do not want books burned, but they do want action. They want books segregated and kept away from anyone who might be interested in them because Jim and Ginny don't like books that talk about sex
"We want parents to decide whether they want their children to have access to these books ... and we want the library's help in identifying [them through labeling and moving]," Maziarka said. "It's just common sense."
No, Ginny, common sense would be to let parents police their own children, not the library, or the schools, or the babysitters and the day cares. Just because you don't want your children to have access to books you don't like doesn't give you the right to segregate literature.
Step away from the brownies, Ginny, and parent your own children.